The Importance of starting testing early in a Microsoft Dynamics implementation

Many Microsoft Dynamics implementations do not consider the importance of having a testing resource such as a Test Manager involved…...

Many Microsoft Dynamics implementations do not consider the importance of having a testing resource such as a Test Manager involved in the early design stages of a project.

In my experience, this often (almost always!) has a detrimental impact when the project moves to the testing stages of the project.

The very nature of testing is to ensure the solution is built to the defined customer requirements and supports the customer’s business processes in order for the business to continue operations. So if we are testing the requirements and processes, then why are Test Managers not involved in the design stages?

A good Test Manager can provide valuable input into the design stages of implementations. Areas such as the tools that will be used, traceability, and test strategy are all important to get right in the design stage. These can have a detrimental impact later in the project if not well defined early.

Many customers leave test automation until the end of the project thinking it is only good for regression testing. Modern test automation tools such as Executive Automats can add huge value even in the design and build stages.

Here are some key reasons why getting testing resources involved early is a good idea and will ultimately prove more cost-effective and drive better quality into the implementation.

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Design

  • Test managers should be involved in the design phase to understand the requirements and the ‘To Be’ processes. This is what we will test against so it is important that someone from testing is involved.
  • Test Managers can identify areas that may be difficult to test or may need more focused testing.
  • Test Managers can advise on how to document requirements and business processes to make traceability and test coverage easy in later testing phases.
  • Test Managers can input into the correct set up of tools such as Azure DevOps to support the design, build, and testing phases. Getting this right at the start can save a huge amount of time during the testing phases.
  • Test Managers attendance at Workshops and Conference Room Pilots (CRP’s) enables building test scripts early which can be used by client SMEs to better understand what is being built and identify changes early in design. Often client SMEs have no experience of the new solution so step-by-step test scripts give SMEs confidence to use the system and try out features, functions, and processes that are being built.
  • Test Managers can define the first draft of the Test Strategy.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of having a testing resource such as the Test Manager involved early in the project. This drives quality into your implementation project and saves a huge amount of time, effort, and cost during the build, test, and deployment phases.

Build

  • Test Managers document Test Plans and build Test Plans in the Test Management Tool.
  • Test Managers and test resources to work closely with system integrators and clients development and testing teams to develop test scripts using the inputs from functional design documents and ‘To Be’ business processes.
  • Introduce test automation early to assist with building test scripts and documentation for the testing phases. Automation tools such as Executive Automats use ‘no code’ test recording, can export step-by-step tests to Azure DevOps for manual and automated testing, and produce step-by-step documentation with screenshots. These can also be used for training.
  • If development is being done in sprints having early automated test scripts can significantly improve quality as these can be run at the end of sprints to ensure functionality built in the previous sprints has not regressed.
  • Use test automation to create test data during the build phase and testing phases. Saving time manually creating test data.
  • Involve the Test Manager in all change requests so these are fully understood and changes can be made to test scripts and documentation ensuring continued traceability.

Test

  • Approve Test Scripts defined in the build phase. Both manual and automated tests.
  • Data migration completed in test environments.
  • Use test automation to assist with the creation of testing data. Another huge time-saving investment during testing.
  • Carry out test execution based on the defined number of test cycles and test types in the Test Plans (eg. System Testing x2 cycles, Systems Integration Testing x 2 cycles, UAT testing x2 cycles).
  • A combination of manual and automated test scripts is executed. Defining automated test scripts early can save a great deal of time and resource during the test cycles.
  • Track defects and change requests required during execution. Update test scripts as required.
  • Report on test progress and the outcomes of the test scripts (Pass/Fail).
  • Exit all test phases based on the outcome and sign off of UAT.

Deployment

  • Cutover planning and data migration. Test Manager to define Smoke Tests for live proving in the production environment.
  • Cutover complete.
  • Smoke testing executed for live proving.
  • Live operations commence for a period of hypercare.

Maintenance

  • Support of live operations. Testing resources can support defect retesting during hypercare.
  • Testing resources to build ‘Regression Testing Pack’ using existing test scripts and defining new ones. The focus should be to automate as much of the regression pack as possible to save time and resources. Regression tests should cover key business processes and any areas of high customizations.
  • Execute the ‘Regression Testing Pack’ on upgrades, updates for defect resolution, change requests, and new functionality introduced by the software vendor. A good regression pack will provide confidence in the continued quality of the software solution and continued business operations.

I hope you have found this a useful article and if you are starting a Microsoft Dynamics implementation you consider involving test resources early in the project.

If you are considering using Test Automation (it is a must for Dynamics 365 implementations now) then please contact me and I would be happy to provide a demo of Executive Automats which is specifically designed for testing Dynamics 365 and other applications.

If you are looking for a Test Manager to support your programme or project then I would be delighted to talk to you about your requirements so please do contact us.

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